Introducing: Teaching Resources

Against Borders for Children building block logo

Alongside supporting the boycott of the School Census, we are assisting teachers and educators in counteracting racist and xenophobic discourses in schools more generally.

Here you’ll find a range of lesson packs and toolkits on anti-racism and migration created by our supporters and other organisations.

If you have anything you’d like to share get in touch!

New Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that we have produced for our upcoming conference.

You can download a Word document of this and the rest of the conference pack from the Resources page.

The campaign logo for Against Borders for Children

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is the School Census?

The School Census takes place every academic term, so three times a year. This academic year the census dates were/are 6 October 2016, 19 January 2017 and 18 May 2017. It is statutory data collection on individual pupils and the schools themselves. It is done for all schools that receive government funding.


  1. What sort of information does the School Census collect?

Personal individual information on each child, including name and home address, sensitive confidential personal data like special needs, and reasons for exclusions including drug and alcohol use or sexual misconduct, national curriculum attainment levels, exam grades, and educational progress.

Since 2008, there has been a widening of information requested. Not all of this information has value for children’s education. Our campaign is specifically concerned about the new requirements for nationality/country of birth (COB) data in the 2016/17 census.


  1. Why is the Department for Education (DfE) collecting children’s nationality/COB through the School Census?

In 2015 then-Home Secretary Theresa May outlined proposals to be included in the Immigration Bill that would bring schools under the government’s agenda to create a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. According to the BBC, those plans included schools withdrawing places offered to children of irregular migrant families and checking immigration status before accepting new pupils. After the then-Education Secretary Nicky Morgan expressed ‘profound concerns’, they reached a compromise, and the DfE agreed instead to collect nationality, COB and and expanded language data through schools “to improve [the DfE’s] understanding of the scale and impact of pupil migration on the education sector.” The new data collection is explicitly linked to the government’s policy to create a hostile environment for migrants, and is part of an attempt to make schools a proxy for immigration enforcement.


  1. Are the new nationality/COB questions anything to do with school funding?

The nationality/COB questions have nothing to do with school funding. There are no repercussions for refusing to answer these questions and it is the right of all parents/legal guardians. That there is no sanction for refusing to answer was confirmed in the House of Lords on Wednesday October 12 2016, and by DfE representatives on 16 November 2016.


  1. How can schools receive funding for children with additional language needs if they do not have access to nationality/COB data?

English as an additional language (EAL) data is already collected by teachers in the classroom. The new nationality/COB questions are not used to determine EAL or funding needs.


  1. Can parents opt out?

Yes. Pages 61 and 66-67 of the DfE’s School Census guidelines explain that schools can record that a child’s immigration data is either “not yet obtained”, “not known”, or has been “refused”.


  1. Can I retract data that I have already submitted?

Yes. If you respond ‘refused’ to the nationality/COB questions in the Spring Census which is due January 19 2017, this response will overwrite any previous response that has been given. Even if your school has not previously asked for nationality/COB data we would encourage you to write to retract it in case the school used information it held on file to fill in the October Census without informing you.


What difference does it make if I refuse to answer the nationality/COB questions?

The DfE has told us that if there are high rates of refused/not yet obtained responses in the January Census, it will not be able to use the data that it does manage to collect for its intended purpose, and will have grounds to stop collecting the data entirely.


  1. Are there any schools that are refusing to submit nationality/COB data to the DfE?

Schools are under a statutory obligation to ask for pupils’ nationality/COB and must submit data that they obtain. However, some schools have recorded ‘not yet obtained’ for all pupils as default in response to the new nationality/COB questions, and have informed parents of their choice to provide nationality/COB data if they wish to do so. Schools still meet their statutory requirements to the DfE by doing this.


  1. Do schools need to see ID documents as evidence for the nationality/COB questions?

No. DfE guidance specifically states at pages 66-67 that passports and birth certificates must not be requested. However, many schools have erroneously asked to see ID documents.

  1. Can schools ask children directly for data without consulting their parents?

This is inadvisable even for older children as they may not fully understand the implications of providing it. Although we have received numerous reports of schools asking children for their nationality/COB directly, schools should ask parents/guardians for the data rather than children themselves.


  1. Can schools use data that they already hold to answer the new nationality/COB questions without informing parents?

No. If schools plan to use data they already hold for purposes other than those for which it was first collected, they must seek consent from a child’s parent/guardian first.  If you are concerned that your child’s school has used data without informing you, please email


  1. Is nationality/COB data available to the Home Office?

Nationality/COB data is not currently available to the Home Office, but would have been had the DfE not changed its data-sharing policy on 7 October 2016after we wrote an open letter expressing precisely that fear. However, nationality/COB data is still being collected as part of the government’s attempt to create a hostile environment for migrants, and future changes in the data-sharing agreement could see nationality data made available to the Home Office once again. It may still be used within the DfE and there is no transparent oversight or any safeguard in place.


  1. Is other School Census data used for immigration enforcement purposes?

Yes. The DfE has an agreement with the Home Office, in place since 2015, that it will share the data of up to 1500 children a month, including name, address and school details, for immigration enforcement purposes. This is an agreement to track down migrant children and families using school records that was kept secret from parents, the press and the public until it was released in December 2016 under the Freedom of Information Act.

Campaign Summary

Here’s a campaign summary that we have produced for our upcoming conference.

You can download the pdf of this and the rest of the conference pack from the Resources page.

The campaign logo for Against Borders for Children

Campaign Summary


Against Borders for Children started in August 2016 and we are a coalition of parents, teachers, schools, NGOs and campaigners.

Our aim this year is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy, effective from September 2016, to collect country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children aged between 2 and 19 in England in order to extend the government’s hostile environment agenda to schools and migrant children.

In September we organised and launched a national boycott of the country of birth and nationality questions, which will continue until the Department of Education reverses this policy. We also called on the DfE to commit to safeguarding children from the stigma of anti-immigrant rhetoric and the violence that accompanies it. In November 2016, we won a concession from the DfE which removed pre-school children (under 5s) from the foreign children database.

The Guardian reports that DfE officials have an agreement, since June 2015, to share the personal data of up to 1,500 schoolchildren a month with the Home Office. In 2015, as Home Secretary, Theresa May wanted schools to check children’s immigration status prior to enrolment, and proposed ‘deprioritising’ the children of irregular migrants for school places. Although that policy was not taken forward, this data-sharing agreement was the compromise she struck with the DfE.

According to the DfE’s own guidelines, providing this data is optional and does not affect school funding. By the DfE’s own admission, if large numbers of parents refuse to answer the new questions in the January and May censuses, the data collected will be useless and they may be forced to scrap the data collection entirely.

This means parents and schools can legally work together to stop this information going to DfE and the Home Office. If a significant minority continue the boycott then this policy will fall. #BoycottSchoolCensus

Join us at our first conference – Saturday 14th January 2017

Parents, teachers, everyone: join the Against Borders for Children campaign in the New Year for our first ever public meeting!
*Find out how we’ve managed to make it this far and what we’ve achieved;
*Learn more about the campaign in the context of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants and disappearing data privacy rights;
*Help us imagine what conversations about race and migration in the classroom might look like in the future; and
*Find out how you can be involved with upcoming actions!

The keynote will be given by Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT.

Other discussions will include Liberty, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Freedom from Torture, NUS, defenddigitalme, Let Us Learn, Jawaab, Freed Voices and Southall Black Sisters (full list of speakers in the conference pack below).

Date: 14th January 2017
Time: 12.30pm – 5pm
Location: SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG, London

The event is free but due to limited seating capacity, prior registration via the EventBrite page is recommended.

Conference Pack:

Resource Link
Template letter to schools to refuse/retract data Template letter [pdf]
Conference agenda and venue info [pdf]
Conference speaker biographies [pdf]
ABC leaflet Leaflet [pdf]
Campaign Summary Link
Conference FAQs pdf or link

Check the Facebook event page for more info.


Home Office Using School Records to Target 1500 Children Each Month

A picture of a sign at the Home Office

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that the DfE have an agreement to share the personal details of up to 1500 schoolchildren a month with the Home Office to “create a hostile environment” in schools for migrants. As The Guardian reports, the agreement is detailed in a memorandum of understanding between the Department for Education (DfE) and the Home Office, in place since June 2015. The DfE also confirmed to SchoolsWeek that it had agreed to share children’s nationality data with the Home Office until a u-turn was made in October.

Campaign coordinator, Gracie Mae Bradley said: ‘This newly released MoU makes clear in chilling detail that the DfE still plans to collaborate with the Home Office to share the personal details on over 1000 children every single month, including name, address, and school details. Using school records to track down and deport migrant children and families is totally indefensible. Schools should be a place where all children feel safe.”

If your school asks for your child’s nationality and country of birth, please use your legal right to decline answering those questions. Or, if they have already got those details, you can tell the school to delete this information using our template letters.

If your school hasn’t asked you then they have either presumed your child’s nationality or are yet to ask. Don’t wait, use our template letters to #BoycottSchoolCensus today.

Join our conference on Saturday 14th of January to learn more about our campaign and find out how you can get involved.

Cause for celebration, but the fight goes on! [Posted originally on the Migrants’ Rights Network]

This post is reblogged from Migrants’ Rights Network with permission.

Gracie Bradley, Project Manager at MRN, talks about the hat that she wears when she isn’t running the Route To Your Rights project – coordinator of the Against Borders for Children campaign.

The collection of nationality and country of birth data in schools and nurseries was a change in policy announced without much fanfare last spring. The government intended to link this new data to other information such as address and ethnicity that is held in the National Pupil Database (NPD). The NPD contains the records of around 20 million people. The data is never deleted, and identifiable information on individual pupils is accessible to the Home Office, the police, and third parties such as researchers and the press.


In 2013, ministers and civil servants discussed excluding children with irregular migration status from schools. Next, in 2015, the then-education secretary Nicky Morgan announced a review of ‘education tourism’. This policy on ‘foreign children lists’ was introduced in May. As recently as October, just after Amber Rudd was forced into a climbdown on her proposals for foreign worker lists, a parliamentary question revealed that the Home Office has requested the data of thousands of children from the DfE in the last 15 months alone, including for immigration enforcement purposes.

Whatever justification the DfE might give for the new data collection, the wider context of the “hostile environment” cannot be ignored. The last few years have seen successive pieces of legislation decimate migrants’ access to justice while turning employers, banks, the DVLA, landlords, and health workers into border guards. This was no time to sit back and watch teachers be added to that list. Schools should be a safe place for all children, not potential collaborators with immigration enforcement.

Strength in numbers

When the campaign started in September, we took the fight straight to government, and wrote a letter to Justine Greening calling on her to scrap the data collection. A wide range of human rights groups signed in solidarity with us; from Privacy International and the Open Rights Group, to Liberty and the Refugee Council. That was enough to get us press coverage in almost all of the national papers. At the same time, we launched a social media campaign to get the word out to as many schools and parents as possible: you do not have to answer the new questions on nationality and country of birth, and refusing to do so protects migrant children and sends a strong signal to government about the kind of society we want to live in.

And then the stories from schools and parents began to pour in: children being asked for passports, contrary to official guidance; schools targeting only foreign pupils for the new information in a clearly discriminatory way; schools wrongly telling parents that the new questions were mandatory; migrant children singled out and embarrassed in front of their classmates.

#BoycottSchoolCensus trended on Twitter, and well-placed FOI requests submitted by our brilliant sister campaign defenddigitalme kept the issue high on the political agenda. The House of Lords passed a motion regretting the new data collection on 31 October, with one peer remarking that it has “all the hallmarks of racism”. And long overdue scrutiny in the House of Commons is expected in the coming weeks, thanks to a motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn.


The first signs that the policy was crumbling came just before the debate in the House of Lords, when Lord Nash reportedly wrote to peers to say that the new data will not be held in the NPD due to its sensitivity. Then, the day after we met with civil servants at the Department for Education last week, the government announced another U-turn: it will not attempt to collect nationality or country of birth data on toddlers through the Early Years Census this January. Credit is due to the civil servants at the DfE who took the time to listen to the stories of the migrant families at the heart of all this: of the parents scared to send their children to school; and the migrant children told to “go home” by their classmates.

The fight continues

Now that the government is on the back foot it’s crucial that we keep the pressure up. We might have spared the pre-schoolers, but the nationality and country of birth questions are set to remain in the next School Census, due on 19 January. But if the data is unusable, the DfE won’t be able to justify its continued collection.

That’s why we’re encouraging all parents to answer ‘refused’ to the new nationality and country of birth questions. There’s no sanction for doing so, and absent a change of heart from government, or more concerted parliamentary opposition, this may be the only way to get this risky and divisive policy scrapped for good.

We have a long way yet to go, but the successes of the campaign so far show us just how much we can achieve when we work in solidarity against forces that initially seem much bigger and more powerful than we are: a note of quiet encouragement for these troubled times.

New Group Launch: Kids Against Raids and Borders.

Sunday 20th November Kids Against Raids And Borders will gather 3.30 to 6.30pm at The Field, New Cross, London.

An interview with Swadhin from KARB.

  • What is KARB?

KARB is kids against raids and borders –  a new kid’s campaign.

  • Why did you want to set up this group?

Because I think there is space for one and there is a need for one. We need one. There is no real kid’s campaign in any of the movements now. There is nothing to get kids genuinely interested. Raids and borders are more of a metaphor for the state’s oppression itself in a way. Another reason is that raids and borders affect children most out of what the government does to oppress people.

  • Why raids and borders?

By raids I mean immigration raids – raids are when someone knocks on your door or stops you somewhere and asks you questions or tries to force you into a van or puts you in handcuffs or arrests you in some other way with no charge and no crime committed. This is purely about the government interest in getting rid of migrants.

Borders is because the government are making everything a border, schools, hospitals, policing (that has always been a border). All public service now have become a way to subject the many to more oppression.

  • Why do you think young people should get involved in groups like KARB?

Because not only are young people affected as much as adults but also our movement is pointless without a succession and children will most likely be the succession to campaign.

But also kids should participate in campaigns because we don’t get together enough  and it is also just a way of talking to each other about what’s on our minds and what school’s like and human interaction really.

The first meeting of KARB will be at The Field, 385 Queens Road, New Cross on Sunday 20th November from 3.30pm to 6.30pm. There will be activities for younger children and space and a meeting space for older children and teenagers to make materials for the campaign and plan future activities.